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    Description

    1797 Capped Bust Right Eagle, AU53
    Elusive Small Eagle Reverse
    BD-1 Variety

    1797 $10 Small Eagle, BD-1, R.5, AU53 PCGS. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/b, with the usual die crack from the rim below star 16 to Liberty's throat. A small mintage of 3,615 Capped Bust Right eagles was struck with the old Small Eagle reverse die in 1797, before the design was switched over to the Heraldic Eagle motif. A single die variety is known for the date and type, classified as BD-1 by John Dannreuther in his outstanding series reference. The BD-1 is scarce-to-rare in all grades today, with a surviving population of just 55-65 examples. This was the only use of the obverse die, but the reverse was used previously to strike all the 1796-dated eagles. Die evidence suggests some 1796-dated coins were struck first, then the 1797 mintage was accomplished, and then there was a remarriage of the 1796 obverse with this reverse (in a later die state) to finish off the 1796 production. If this is true, the reported mintage for 1797 may include some 1796-dated coins, as well.

    The Capped Bust Right eagles were popular with well-heeled collectors in the early days of the hobby and the elusive nature of the 1797 Small Eagle variety was understood by catalogers by the mid-1860s. An example in lot 1616 of the Fifth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1864) was described as, "1797 Small eagle reverse, four stars at right; a splendid uncirculated piece, of the highest degree of rarity." The lot realized a hefty $40, more than any other early eagle in the sale, to prominent Ohio collector Heman Ely. Recent sales include the AU50 PCGS example in lot 4849 of the Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2012), that realized $103,500.

    The present coin is an impressive AU53 example, with just a trace of high-point wear on the strongly impressed design elements. The lustrous orange-gold surfaces show the expected number of minor abrasions for the grade, but none are large or distracting. Under magnification, faint traces of planchet adjustment marks are evident on the right reverse border, but the fine scratches are virtually invisible to the naked eye. The overall presentation is most attractive. Population: 8 in 53, 10 finer (11/19). (NGC ID# BFYN, Variety PCGS# 45716, Base PCGS# 8555)

    Weight: 17.50 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 22
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 388

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